Reaction to Trump administration's decision on Utah monument changes | KOB 4

Reaction to Trump administration's decision on Utah monument changes

Martin Heinrich, left, and Tom Udall, right Martin Heinrich, left, and Tom Udall, right | Web Staff
December 04, 2017 05:46 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- President Donald Trump signed proclamations reducing two national monuments in Utah by over 2 million acres.


The Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante monuments cover over 3 million acres. Trump will shrink Bears Ears by about 85 percent and Grand Staircase-Escalante by about half.

It's part of the Trump administration's move to put fewer restrictions on public lands.

Here is reaction to that decision:

"No one values the splendor of Utah more than the people of Utah – and no one knows better how to use it. Families will hike and hunt on land they have known for generations, and they will preserve it for generations to come. The Antiquities Act does not give the Federal Government unlimited power to lock up millions of acres of land and water, and it's time we ended this abusive practice. Public lands will once again be for public use."

-- President Donald Trump


"I thank President Trump for his leadership on the Monument Review and for keeping his promise to make sure the rural voice is heard once again," said Secretary Zinke. "As I visited the Monuments in Utah, I met with Americans on all sides of the issue -- from ranchers to conservationists to tribal leaders -- and found that we agree on wanting to protect our heritage while still allowing public access to public land. The people of Utah overwhelmingly voiced to us that public land should be protected not for the special interests, but for the citizens of our great country who use them, and this is what President Trump is doing today. Bears Ears and Grand Staircase will remain under federal protection, will adhere to the spirit and letter of the Antiquities Act, and -- even after our modification -- combined will still be nearly twice the size of Rhode Island."

-- Ryan Zinke, secretary of the interior


"By acting on Secretary Zinke's thoughtful recommendations, President Trump has restored balance to our public lands discussion," said Governor Gary Herbert of Utah. "We are pleased that Utahns once again have a voice in the process of determining appropriate uses of these public lands that we love. By reducing these super-sized monuments to a size consistent with the intent of the law, new doors of dialogue have opened up that will allow thoughtful, long-term protection of these federal lands. Federal, state, local and tribal officials can now convene to craft legislation for appropriate special protections and responsible recreational uses."

-- Utah Gov. Gary Hebert


"The President's unprecedented move to drastically shrink Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments in southern Utah tears at the heart of America's conservation legacy and is a direct assault on sacred lands and tribal sovereignty. President Trump has denied future generations the opportunity to learn about the past and explore the remote mesas and canyons that have inspired visitors and inhabitants, dating back thousands of years.

"In the century plus since Theodore Roosevelt signed the Antiquities Act into law, presidents from both political parties have used it to protect the places we all treasure and integral parts of who we are as Americans. Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante are unquestionably the types of places that the Antiquities Act was intended to protect for future generations. Dismantling protections for these landscapes sets a dangerous precedent that fuels an even larger campaign to attack many of our most treasured public lands across the nation.

"I was proud to stand with southwestern tribes, including the Navajo Nation and Zuni Pueblo, who were part of an Inter-Tribal Coalition that called for monument protection for the sacred sites and irreplaceable cultural resources in Bears Ears. For the tribes who hold this land in deep reverence, Bears Ears National Monument and the thousands of historic and cultural sites within it serve as essential symbols of their rich history and continued perseverance.

"In recent years, I've joined communities in New Mexico to welcome monument protections for Bears Ears and for two of the most spectacular culturally and ecologically significant places in our state—the Rio Grande del Norte and Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks. President Trump's actions today threaten both of those community-driven monuments that permanently protected iconic landscapes, increased recreational access, and have proven to be major drivers for our local economies.

"I'm confident that this shameful action will rightly face the same types of legal challenges as others pushed through by a White House hell-bent on appeasing a few extreme interests at the expense of the interests and values of the American people.

"I urge the American people to continue making their voices heard to oppose this un-American action by the Trump Administration. We have a moral responsibility as a nation to our children and all future generations of Americans to protect and conserve our natural and cultural heritage." 

-- Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M.


"Let's get one thing clear: Donald Trump's decision to roll back Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante national monuments by over 80 percent isn't a reconfiguration of the boundaries. His proclamation revokes the original monument boundaries, eviscerating protections for the lands and artifacts found upon them, and amounts to the largest frontal assault on public lands in history. These are lands of stunning natural beauty, unique ecology, and sacred meaning that the United States holds in trust for all of the American people. And today, the president attacked their cultural and historical significance, the outdoor recreation jobs in Southeastern Utah that depend on the monuments, and the stunning natural heritage we preserve for future generations. 

 "Most serious of all, the president's actions are deeply insulting to the Native American Tribes who worked over many years to establish Bears Ears National Monument and now co-manage the monument. The Navajo, Ute, Ute Mountain Ute, Zuni, and Hopi tribes urged protection to shield sacred land and cultural sites from looting, vandalism, and energy development. The president is lifting protections for tens of thousands of Native American sacred sites, putting them at risk, and opening them for coal, oil and gas development. Trump's decision to rescind protections and create new boundaries was made in secret — the public had no opportunity to review the plans or the decision-making process, and the Tribes were not consulted. Donald Trump's ignorance and repeated disrespect for Native Americans diminish the office of the president of the United States.

"For all of these reasons, I believe this attack on public lands and heritage will not stand up to scrutiny. President Trump doesn't have the legal authority to diminish a monument. He is using never-tested and dubious legal theories to try to reverse designations, and he will be challenged in court. I support the legal fight, and I will fight the president every step of the way in my capacity as the Democratic leader on Senate Indian Affairs and the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee." 

-- Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M.


"I'm thrilled and grateful to President Trump and Secretary Zinke for giving Utahns a voice in the protection of federal lands in Utah. The President's proclamation represents a balanced solution and a win for everyone on all sides of this issue. It also represents a new beginning in the way national monuments are designated, paving the way for more local input, and taking into account the actual letter and intent of the Antiquities Act, which calls for the 'smallest area compatible with proper care and management of the objects to be protected.'"

-- Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah

"With his unprecedented decision today, President Trump and GOP leaders in Utah sided with the oil and gas industry over everyday Americans. Once again, Trump has shown complete disrespect to our public lands and monuments, to all Americans who enjoy them, and to the five tribes of Utah whose ancestry exists throughout these lands.

"This shortsighted and arrogant move must be legally challenged and the land returned to the people.

I am a product of thousands of years of sustained agriculture, which saw our people through the most devastating droughts, albeit in a high desert environment. I understand the value that Indian tribes bring to any region in our country, and I fully support the Utah Tribes that are suing Trump to get their land back.

"For many Indian Tribes, protected public lands are the only way for individuals and tribes to use their ancestral homelands, and encroachment by the U.S. Government, in this way, will have devastating effects on generations to come. The land that the Trump is taking away from Bears Ears, Grand Staircase Escalante, and the land near Chaco Canyon that will be auctioned off to the oil and gas industry, is not going to be used for any noble purpose.

"We should expand public lands - not cut them back. Public lands help to preserve ancient histories of people who came before us , while supporting outdoor recreation economies that create revenue and jobs. It is up to us to protect the land for all future generations.

"This President and Secretary of the Interior are moving hard to scrutinize the designation of public lands, and we need a champion in Washington to take them on. I know firsthand that many of our sacred sites are not within our tribal boundaries, I deeply respect and will defend our public lands and monuments, and I will fight every day the oil and gas industry and all those who would destroy our land for profit to preserve and protect what belongs to the American people."

-- Deb Haaland, former Democratic Party of New Mexico chair, current Congressional candidate, and member of the Laguna Pueblo


"Thank you Secretary Zinke, for coming to San Juan, Kane, and Garfield counties and listening to the local grassroots people. Your boots on the ground approach was unexpected, but well received and appreciated. "Thank you Senator Hatch. You and your staff have been champions for us. Thank you for never giving up. For believing we could rectify a wrong and for being a fighter for San Juan County and our people. Thank you President Trump. Thank you for not being a typical politician and passing us over. Thank you for caring about San Juan County. We may be only 15,000 strong, but we matter. We appreciate you willing to take the backlash from the special interest groups as you stand for the people and the economy of San Juan County."

-- Rebecca Benally, San Juan County (Utah) county commissioner


Leaders of the Navajo Nation are extremely disappointed in President Trump's announcement that he will diminish the size of the Bears Ears National Monument. President Trump made the announcement at the Utah State Capitol on Monday.

Former President Obama designated the national monument on Dec. 28, 2016. The proclamation established the Bears Ears Commission to guide and provide recommendations on management of the landscape and, for the first time, traditional knowledge is honored as a resource to be protected. Navajo people continue to use the monument to collect firewood, herbs, and medicine, and to hunt.

Navajo Nation Council members have supported the Bears Ears National Monument through several resolutions, including the most recent resolution passed in January, which supports former President Obama's proclamation establishing the Bears Ears National Monument and opposes any congressional action that seeks to reverse the designation that created the national monument.

"Navajo people have advocated for protection of the Bears Ears for decades, and continue to use and value the land for their livelihoods and cultural practices. This monument represents part of our history and our future. Navajo Nation has been consistent in our message – we support the 1.35 million acre monument designation," said Council Delegate Davis Filfred (Mexican Water, Aneth, Teecnospos, Tólikan, Red Mesa), who represents several Navajo communities in the state of Utah and has been a strong and outspoken advocate for Bears Ears.

Delegate Filfred also stated that President Trump did not seek input from Navajo Nation, or the coalition of tribes that worked with the Nation to designate Bears Ears as a national monument.

"Bears Ears has protected Navajo people in the past, and now we must protect it. Navajo Nation will continue to work with the Hopi, Zuni, Ute Indian, and Ute Mountain Ute Tribes to fight for our ancestral lands and permanently protect this landscape. This decision disrespects Native Americans across the country by acting against the Antiquities Act, which has been used countless times since 1906 to protect Native American heritage. Navajo Nation will be filing a legal challenge to President Trump's decision and we will not back down," added Delegate Filfred.

The Navajo Nation has previously indicated that the Nation will seek legal action to address the reduction of the Bears Ears National Monument.

-- Statement from the Navajo Nation

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